Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Juggling Act

Are you like me, and wear many writing hats at once? This week I find myself jumping from one task to another, and I see no end to the whiplash anytime soon. I don't want to let my current wip die, or rather become comatose while I work on getting ready for an upcoming writer's conference, so what should I do?

I'm working on proposal writing, proofreading and subsequently editing an old manuscript once more (what's another round to tackle?), filling out a questionnaire for a gracious blogger who is featuring me next week, adding scenes to my current wip, and continuing to brush up on the skills of creative writing all at once. So I ask you, when you're in need of juggling writing duties, do you jump from one task to another within a single day, or do you slot certain tasks in on specific days of the week?
Which method works better for you? And please don't tell me you're immune to multitasking. I don't think my shattered nerves could handle that.

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wedding Bells are Near

I’m at that age where the next generation of my family is saying the “I do, forever and ever” vows. New romance is in the air for real now, not just in my fictional world anymore. And it’s kind of fun to be watching on the side lines. My sister is busy making wedding plans for her out-of-the-country daughter and soon-to-be son-in-law, as well as organizing a stag and doe party.

As I accept my “Aunt” duties and start baking for the goodie trays (I'm being very disciplined and not testing at all), I find myself wondering what morsels of my nieces experience will find their way into one of my stories in one way or another. So, I ask you, how much of life’s realities inspire scenes or story lines in your novels? Do you find yourself twisting an ordinary event into an extraordinary read? Can you guess if I do?

Surrendering to Him,


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Trust and Obey

In line with prioritizing, I need to trust and obey that all that is supposed to be accomplished will be achieved, and on time.

Right now, in the writing arena of my life alone, I have to polish a very old manuscript for pitching at a conference coming up. I also need to finish my current wip, and I’ve been slow-cooking an idea for a story that keeps asking for more seasoning (brain power). I’m really feeling quite frazzled by it all, and wondering just how God intends for me to juggle these three boulders all at once, while keeping all my non-writing priorities in check at the same time.

Prayers would be greatly appreciated, as I struggle for guidance and answers. If you have a prayer request, too, I’m listening. Perhaps we can pray for each other.

"He will keep in perfect peace all those who trust in him, whose thoughts turn often to the Lord!" Isaiah 26:3

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, April 27, 2009


It’s a never ending challenge to get this right. Just as soon as I think I’ve got everything in order, the winds pick up and shuffle everything around. It reminds me of when my children were infants. I’d just get into routine, knowing when they liked to nap, feed and play, and then, without warning, their internal clocks shifted, leaving me once more trying to organize life around their newly chosen schedules.

Are you driven by a prioritization chart? Or are you the easy-go-lucky type who manages to fit everything in without a pang of worry?

Through prayer, I’m making adjustments to my scheduling once more. I’m trying to get it more in line with my reassessed priorities. Like the seasons of the calendar year, some of my priorities have seasons, too. For spring and summer, what priorities climb the ranks on your list, and which ones step down for a well-deserved rest? Do you have seasons for editing and seasons for first drafts? Or do you mix those crafty challenges together all year long in your writing priority category?

Surrendering to Him,

Friday, April 24, 2009

Confession Time

First: Jody, my cyber writing accountability friend, I totally failed this week on getting anywhere near my word count. But somehow I don't feel too guilty. I think I needed the break.

You see, everyone, I posed yesterday's question for a very good reason. I got caught up in several good books that tell one amazingly inventive, creative, imaginary, fictitious, mythical world, and I'm not sorry one bit for the experience.

Yes, on the very rare occasion that little annoying editor in my head would prop up and say things like: "Too much introspection, let's get on with the action.", "Oh, come now, Mrs. Meyer, that would have made a wonderful scene. Why tell? You should have shown." Then my own mind would answer: "Take a look at the size of these books, Eileen. She had to tell some!" But, honestly, this happened very rarely, as I was engrossed in the read majorly.

All in all, Mrs. Meyer took me for an amazing ride with her Twilight Series. (Disclaimer: I'm not quite finished Breaking Dawn , but I may be by the time scheduler posts this.) It's difficult to break myself away from this story that trumps all just to write this confession, I admit. Perhaps it's because it's written in an imaginary world that I find it so interesting. The creativity and imagination tapped to create this fictitious world in Twilight, and yet relate it to the earth we walk on so well, is amazing to me.

If your teenager is mature enough to read fiction for fiction, knows the difference from reality, then you may want to see what these books are about and judge for yourself if your teenagers are ready for such an imaginative read.

Why am I so enthralled with this series? Let me try and state a few.

  • Abstinence. Though the story reason isn't the same as the one I give my children, it still leads to the same result. Not until after marriage. And Edward does think the same way as me, it would seem, at least at one point in the series. Wait because God advises us to. For my teenage daughter's reading, this is a major bonus to this secular series.
  • It portrays measures of unconditional love. At least, as close to an unconditional love that the majority of humans can truly offer. And it offers this concept in various threads of the story, not just the romance one. Huge bonus! We are definitely more selfish in nature than selfless. Hence, why Jesus, our Savior lives. Again, if your teenager is mature enough, they might read this between the lines.
  • The question of one's soul is addressed throughout. Though we're talking mythical, fictional characters here, any referencing to the importance of a soul is a good thing in my mind. It might spark questions to our teens. A desire for them to seek some counsel from God-fearing, God-loving children of our Creator in their real world, too. I'm all for that connection.
  • There is no graphic description of the act of sex in at least the first half of Breaking Dawn after Belle and Edward are married and try. We get a before and after look at Belle's nerves, anticipation, and finally, reaction, but that's all. So refreshing in a story written for the secular market. (Again, I reserve the right to change my mind on this if Meyer's doesn't stick to her first depiction styling throughout the rest of the book.)
  • And to wrap this list up, though I could find many other reasons for enjoying this series, I really value the hope this series offers in regard to breaking down the enemy lines in our lives. It is our perception of the enemy that keeps them the enemy in many cases. If we allow ourselves to see the good in those who seem so opposite and opposed to us, peace may be viable and even rewarding.

Anyway, that's why my writing was slim pickings this week. I needed to rest in someone else's creation of a fictional world, and just be mostly entertained for once.

Surrendering to Him,


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Can a Writer Read for Pleasure Only?

One of the biggest hazards of becoming a writer for me is the inability to just enjoy a story. I'm constantly analysing and accessing the craft involved in creating the novels I read.

So, my question is, are there any particular novels that while reading you've noticed you had minimal writer's intrusion happening? Stories that engrossed your imagination so much that the art and craft analysis would need to wait for a second read through?

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Redundancy Alert

To a writer, redundancy of overused words stands out like a spectator's head blocking your view of the screen. Our eyes and minds remember so well when last that word was used. Then we tisk-tisk the author, and subconsciously run alternative word choices through our mind, wondering how the author and editors missed this.

But there's more to redundancy we should be looking for than just overused words as we edit our work. What about gestures?

Do we really need to read about a gesture if it means the same thing as the words we just heard in a character's speech?

"Yes," he nodded in agreement.

Wouldn't simply "Yes." suffice, or He nodded. Last I checked nodding is an agreeable state or positive response to someone or something, while shaking one's head is in disagreement or a negative response. Either the gesture or the spoken word should sufficiently relay the message we're trying to get across.

This all comes down to writing concisely and with power. If we write excellent dialogue, then the gestures required should be limited. If we describe expressive gestures, then dialogue may not be needed. How many silent messages do we send with our eyes, movement of a limb, or some other body part, that need no words attached to be certain the message is clear? Intermixing this type of communication throughout your story will make it more realistic, and interesting, too.

What spoken words and gestures do you tend to use that only up the word count with no valuable purpose because they constitute redundancy?

Surrendering to Him,


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Judgemental Trap

We all fall into it. And often don't even recognize that we're doing so.

I'm guilty of it. And I honestly lift my heavy heart to the Lord over this sin probably most of all.

But what makes humans so judgemental? Is it ignorance? Rudeness? Knowledge? Self-confidence? Or lack there of? Or, perhaps sometimes it's sparked by fear. I suspect judgement comes from an infinite number of sources, and that's why it's so difficult to rid our state of minds of it.

I mean, isn't prejudice, racism, stubbornness, jealousy, and hate, to name a few, all byproducts of being judgemental about others, and even ourselves?

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:3-5

"I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God."

I challenge you to read and study those verses. They are full of council, and very freeing words if we practice their teaching in all aspects of our life.

As I read CBA and ABA books I hope to not judge, but rather seek to find what nuggets of gold, lessons, if you will, they hold for me to discover a better understanding of who I am and what I believe. Let us not judge one another's work in our book reviews, but rather share what we gained from the read. (Now that's just one aspect to be considered by this writer. How else can I refrain from being judgemental? Let me count thy ways.)

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, April 20, 2009

Reflections of A Christian Women's Retreat

If I had to pick one word for what I got out of this past weekend's retreat that I attended with my Mom and about 30 other Jesus loving, God serving women, I'd have to go with:


One of my carpool buddies offered that word, and I quickly grabbed on, because it is so very true.

I am rejuvenated spiritually.

What's so amazing, is that I never really felt that I needed any rejuvenating in the spiritual area of my life. I mean, seriously, daily I immerse myself in the Word, Spiritual devotions, Prayers that too often turn into long conversations with God (I'm sure He's created an on/off switch just for me--He'd have to, or He'd never hear anyone else's offerings), and with respect to my writing, I depend on God to guide it wholly and I'm working on my writing about five to eight hours a day on average. Wow, you'd think I would be a better Christian with this schedule, but trust me, I'm a very slow learner...but I'm trusting God to work on that, too!

So how do I feel rejuvenated?

I believe it comes from the change of how I worshiped and praised and served this weekend.

  • Daily, I don't sing praise songs out loud with a group of amazingly gifted musicians, or vocally at all, really.
  • Daily, I worship and praise, and even mostly serve, in solitude. This weekend I did so with a group of more than 30 women, and I was learning audibly through the leaders speaking, not through reading.

There is truly power in company, and getting out of routine, I believe.

I am truly blessed to have attended this Christian Women's Retreat, and I believe that everyone involved in organizing it deserve Angel status. For they were Angels of love and grace, and stewardship, to all who attended. Praises of thanks are lifted for each and every one of them!

Now, it's back to routine, but with wonderful memories and a few more things to think about, too.

If you care to share, what makes you feel rejuvenated spiritually?

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, April 17, 2009

Waiting Patiently, Productively, and Expectantly...

What does that mean?

Marlene Bagnull notes in Writing His Answer that she received the message "I want you to learn to wait patiently, productively, and expectantly."

I love this Bible Study for Christian Writers that Marlene has created. If you haven't got your hands on one yet, I highly recommend it. Hubby got mine for me through Amazon about a year ago. I keep repeatedly going through it, each time something new resonates with me from her very wise teachings. Yesterday, it was this little line in Chapter Seven that struck a cord in me. And the cord still plays on.

Learning to wait Patiently, Productively, and Expectantly.

I'm still in awe at how those three fit together. I've always considered patience to be an act of quietness, stillness, listening, waiting. But now I wonder if God's type of patience that He wishes us to attain is something different. For production and expectation don't seem to belong with my original understanding of patiently waiting.

Could God's version of patience be an amalgamation of serving, worshiping, and listening for Him all rolled into one?

If it is, then interweaving patience with productivity and expectancy seems doable to me. If we center all on Him, then we are not stagnant while we patiently wait for His answer, but rather, actively seeking His answer by working and faithfully waiting while serving Him, worshipping Him (studying and further understanding His Word), and praising and praying quietly with Him as the center of all. It's complicated to me, and I'm still trying to sort it all out. But thought I'd share my current pondering.

I will be away on a Christian Women's Retreat until Sunday, so I won't be able to respond to comments until Monday, but I'm curious as to what "Waiting patiently, productively, and expectantly" to you means?

May God bless you and keep you safe and mindful of Him this weekend! And for those who are working on their word counts, I pray you'll be given ample time to devote to writing His answer.

Surrendering to Him,


Thursday, April 16, 2009

When the Overwhelmed Shifts to Depression...

what pulls you back on track? How do you shift gears into a useful, worshipful, serving state of mind and action again?

When my list of to-do's overwhelms me, like when contemplating all I have to do to prepare for an upcoming conference so that my investment in time and money won't be wasted, I often discover depression taking over me. There doesn't seem to be a gradual digression, either. One minute I'm plugging away at conquering that to-do list, and the next, blackness descends.

The frenzy inside me boils and irritates. I see no great solution. Giving up creeps in. But I fight it because somehow that doesn't sound like it would be pleasing to my Heavenly Father. I know He expects more of me than this. This nothingness, bleak attitude, self-destructive depression isn't from Him.

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." II Timothy 1:7

A sound mind I have not, right now.

"Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee" Psalm 55:22a

I inhale. Envisioning His breath of life taking over. Swishing, like waving hands would to clear a room quietly and respectfully, He unsettles the destructive, defeating molecules that threaten His rightful inhabitants. Like dust motes, the enemy scatters at His command. Heaviness becomes lighter, freer. Peacefulness enters. A sense of control, direction, resumes.

Just take one small step at a time. Trust that if you serve, worship, and obey, all that is required will be accomplished. Nothing more, nothing less.

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." Matthew 7:7-8

And so it is. Praise God!

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Scene Sequencing

Hi, All:

I'm blogging on Writer's Rest today about Scene Sequencing. I hope you'll click over to there and share your ideas.

Surrendering to Him,


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Introspection, How Much is Too Much?

I'm not just referring to the internal monologue that is italicized in our stories as introspection, but when writing in deep POV, all the paragraphs that describe how the character is dealing with something, pondering something, how much is too much for you?

Personally, I love getting inside my characters' heads. And I love reading books where the author has clearly loved doing the same. But when does it become too much?

How much introspection does it take before the reader realizes that there is no longer any action in the story? You know, the time when you realize that you've been sitting idly perusing the character's brain, and nothing in the outside world of the story is happening anymore, that's when the "too much" alarm sounds off for you. When does that happen?

For you, is the limit a page, two pages, or a paragraph of introspection?

Whatever your limit, how do you correct the problem it presents?

Do you slip a little movement in? "Picking up the sweaty glass, she downed the cranberry juice in one gulp before the harsh screams resumed. Would she ever rid herself of that piercing memory? How her daughter's eyes bled for..." and on we go into another string of introspection.

Or do you add something a little more plot moving to add some action? Like a transition sentence or two, that physically moves the character either in time or physicality. Or do you halt the introspection, maybe to add a little intrigue, and move on to a new scene, leaving the rest of the introspection to take place later on?

I'm curious, what is your introspection page space limit? And when you do break it up, how do you seamlessly accomplish the task?

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, April 13, 2009

Words that Trip me Up. HELP!

Don't you just hate it when you're writing is sailing so smoothly, then the mast gets ripped right out of the boat because a word trips you up. You can't for the life of you figure out how to spell it.

First, you use the online dictionary, but the word is either slang that hasn't made it into the dictionary yet, or it's more of a sound, and again, it's not there to be referenced. Or, worse, your spelling is so horrendously off that the dictionary has no clue what to retrieve for help.

Then, if you're like me, you use a life line. My life line is hubby. He enjoys receiving these writerly calls to break up the monotony of his actuarial, math encompassing, work day. In fact, he often encourages me in the morning. "So, Bun, will I receive a call today? You know, for a word or phrase for your story?" He asks with bright eyes curled slightly up in anticipation.

I truly am blessed that he likes to be a part of this writing journey of mine. It shouldn't really surprise me, though. He always had to put a stitch or two in my cross stitch pieces and knitting projects, too, just so he could proudly say "He helped" to whoever the recipient of the project may be.

But, hubby is a busy man during the work day, and often in meetings, so my call goes unanswered immediately, and I'm an impatient writer, so I give up on my word choice, the perfect fit, since I can't spell it, and substitute for something less than perfect. Sigh. Hate it when that happens.

I really wish there was a dictionary for odd words, sounds, etc. You know, the ones that trip me up. (If anyone knows of one, please do share. I'll be ordering it pronto!)

So here's a start to some of the words I've struggled (or still struggling) to master:

Deja Vu -- When the past eerily comes back to you.

Yeah -- Okay, I'm sure this has been used incorrectly in books. This, I believe, is supposed to be used in place of Yes, however, some seem to use it instead of my next word, which really trips me up.

Yay -- An excited cheer.

Cinch -- Why does 'C' sometimes sound like an 'S'?

Berserk -- Somehow I never pronounce the first 'R', and that first 'e' comes out as a soft 'a' to me.

Foyer -- Okay, how do you get 'er' from something that sounds like 'yay'?

I have tons more, but, of course, when I want to make note of them, they evade me like the plague. So, help me out, what words would you include in a TRIP-ME-UP dictionary for writers of limited vocabulary?

Surrendering to Him,


Winner of Cheryl Wyatt's Ready-Made Family

Congratulations, Smilinkyn!

You didn't leave your e-mail addy, so I'll give you until Wednesday to contact me with your snail mail address. Otherwise, I'll redraw. You can contact me at eileenastels[at]rogers[dot]com.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

An Easter Sunday Moment

"Jesus said unto her,
I am the resurrection, and the life:
he that believeth in me,
though he were dead, yet shall he live:
And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.
Believest thou this?"
John 11:25,26
May we celebrate the miracle of Easter together!
Surrendering to Him,

Friday, April 10, 2009

A Good Friday Moment

"For God so loved the world,
that he gave his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,
but have everlasting life."
John 3:16

May the blessings of Easter be with us all!

Surrendering to Him,


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Easter Preparation

This has been one of those weeks where everything got turned upside down.

Spring sprung a leak, and churned a winter storm in our area with ice and snow to blanket our earth once more.

Our girls got sick. All three were home on Monday, with the youngest still home on Tuesday. Fevers and swollen glands, the culprits.

As a result, I'm behind on my writing goals, behind on my Easter treasure hunt hints to be stuffed inside the eggs, and behind on my Easter baking and all round Easter preparation.

Today I'll be baking Paska for the neighbors, so I thought I'd share my recipe with you all. If you try it out, let me know what you think. It's one of our family's favorites. (Hint: I make Fruit Pavlova with the left-over egg whites. The girls love this as an Easter dessert.)

Paska (Easter Bread)

4 to 5 cups All Purpose Flour
1 cup warm (not hot) water
2 tsp. sugar
1 pkgs. active dry yeast
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 whole eggs
3 egg yolks

Measure flour onto square of wax paper. Sprinkle yeast over warm water (2 tsp. sugar mixed in water) in large bowl. Allow to stand 10 minutes, stir thoroughly. Add melted butter, sugar, salt, and beaten whole eggs and yolks, and 1 cup flour. Mix in remaining flour till soft dough is formed.

Knead on lightly floured surface till smooth and elastic. Place in greased bowl, cover and allow to rise in warm place till doubled (about 2 hours). Punch down, divide in 2 (reserving a couple tiny balls of dough). Place in 2 greased 3 lb. shortening tins, or round cake pans. From the reserved dough, form a cross on the center of each loaf, and on top of the cross form a crown. Press this motive gently in place. Let rise until doubled. Bake at 350 F for about 35 minutes. When baked, turn out of tins immediately and cool on racks.

The Paska Story: Jesus is the Bread of Life. Eggs are symbolic of new life. Most of the liquid in this bread is eggs; so Paska is symbolic of the new life in Christ. The loaf is round to remind us that God's love always surrounds us with no beginning and no ending. The cross topped with a crown reminds us of Christ's victory over the cross and reassures us that whosoever believes in Him shall have everlasting life. The paschal lamb was the sacrificial lamb, and the name of the loaf reminds us that Christ died for our sins so we can have a more abundant life. Some of each batch of Paska must always be given away to remind us to share the Joy of Living for Jesus.

I sure hope you enjoy this if you get a chance to make it, and that you bless a neighbor or friend with a shared portion.

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I Am A Writer...

What are you?

The ACFW online course loop this month is titled "Too shy to pitch and promote". Terry Burns is leading it as a question and answer type of course, and I'm finding it very helpful.

Currently, we are discussing "getting into character". Ie. Engaging the part of our persona that reveals confidence and allows us to coherently talk to strangers in an intelligent, positive manner while preventing our shyness from stealing those opportunities to pitch and promote the work God has led us to create.

Some have suggested that the base to harnessing that confidence is in how we perceive ourselves when it comes to writing.

Do we think of ourselves as a writer wannabe, aspiring writer, writer-in-training? What title do we honestly deserve?

I admit, I've been underestimating myself for some time. I'm on my fourth short contemporary novel, and yet I still refer to myself as a wannabe, or aspiring, or an in-training writer. But no more.

I've spent the better part of the last six years of my life studying writing, and physically and mentally fitting words and scenes together to craft faithful romances worth pondering. I have been writing!

I may not be a published writer of full-length fiction yet, but I am a writer. None of what I've accomplished so far could be possible without God, I know, but I can humbly and honestly say that through Him, I have become a real writer. I can't stop dreaming up stories. And I can't stop contemplating the best way to present those stories on the page.

Writing is a major part of me, and I am a part of my writing, therefore I am a writer.

"Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that." Galatians 6:4

I'm so glad I got that figured out.

Now, it's your turn. Are you, plain and simple (though perhaps enormously challenged at times like me), a writer?

Surrendering to Him,


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Branding Anyone?

I've been wondering about this branding concept for writers for quite some time.

According to The American Marketing Association (AMA), a brand is a "name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers."

With respect to writer's branding, a couple of examples that have stuck in my mind are:

Karen Kingsbury: "Life-Changing Fiction"

Brandilyn Collins: "Seatbelt Suspense"

The idea is to have your brand become almost synonymous with your author name. When I see "life-changing fiction" I automatically think of Karen Kingsbury, and I know her stories are true to her brand. Each story I've read of Karen's is definitely Life-Changing for me. Her stories make me ask myself tough questions. They make me seek a closer walk with God. I know never to pick up one of Karen's books if I want a simple no-brainer summer read, because I'll not get that from any of her stories, period. Karen Kingsbury knows that God has called her to write "Life-Changing Fiction" and she obeys, never failing.

So, have you defined your brand of writing?

I think doing so could be incredibly helpful in keeping your focus when crafting your stories. If we know what we're striving to achieve with our novels, then we can quickly eliminate or alter scenes, chapters, ideas, to fit the requirements we feel God has set on us.

What is it that you feel God is asking you to focus on? What type of stories do you write while seeking God's constant council? Is God using your writing to bring a smile to your reader's face? A series of belly-rolling laughter? Is He guiding you to write tear instigators? Scare your reader straight to the facilities? Stress-releasing stories? No-brainers for your audience to just relax to after long hours at work?

I'm writing my fourth novel now, and I think I'm finally seeing what is common in all of them. The genre part is easy, as I'm sure it is for most of us. Mine is romance. For some it might be Women's Lit, Historical, Suspense, Science Fiction, and then you can get into the whole subgenre aspect. For me, my stories would fall under Inspirational Christian Romances. But for branding, I came up with...

Faithful Romances Worth Pondering
What do you all think?

I'd like to hear what you'd expect from a story that is labelled a Faithful Romance Worth Pondering.

Perhaps I'll have to go back to the drawing board if you don't come up with what I'm expecting. This could be a good exercise for all of us. So, if you have an idea for your own brand, feel free to share it in the comments and hopefully we can comment on each others to see if our brands our really depicting what we want them to. Share away, and let's get some branding underway.

"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load."
Galatians 6:2-5

Surrendering to Him,


Monday, April 6, 2009

Ready-Made Family by Cheryl Wyatt (with a GIVEAWAY)

"I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love;
I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them."
Hosea 11:4

Ready-Made Family by Cheryl Wyatt

To enjoy an Authors-Helping-Writers interview with Cheryl Wyatt, please click here.

Ready-Made Family
April 2009-Steeple Hill Love Inspired--IN STORES NOW!
Wings of Refuge Series

Amelia North needs refuge, and finds it--in Refuge, Illinois. Stranded there after a car wreck, the single mother expects to be cold-shouldered. After all, she's already been rejected by her parents, her church and her daughter's father. Instead, she finds a town full of people with open hands and hearts…including pararescue jumper Ben Dillinger.

Ben wants to help Amelia and her daughter find safety and stability. Instead, he finds himself freefalling--right into love with the ready-made family.


True to Cheryl Wyatt's style, her third book starts off with a doozy of a hook. With high-stakes situations Wyatt's stories draw you in from the first line and then her characters take over from there. Amelia and Ben, and little Reece, are a delight to get to know, their imperfections and all, and this story moves at a quick pace from beginning to end. Ready-Made Family weaves trust, fear, disappointment, forgiveness, and God's amazing Grace into one wonderful tale of how unexpected kindness can change lives all around you. Refuge is a town in which I'd love to live, and this books characters already seem like friends to me. A great read, once again, created by Cheryl Wyatt!

I hope you'll visit the following links to pick up a copy of Cheryl Wyatt's Ready-Made Family (RMF) for yourself and maybe a friend, too. Purchase link for RMF purchase link for RMF

Barnes and Noble purchase link for RMF:

And Be Sure to Check Cheryl's New KINDLE Contest Out!

Straight from Cheryl, herself:
Starting April Fool's day 2009 I'll be running a Kindle contest. Only my newsletter subscribers will be eligible for entry. To receive those quarterly newsletters as well as more information on the Kindle contest, visit and sign up in the newsletter space provided. This is a double-opt-in feature and you will receive an e-mail prompting you to confirm that you wish to receive the newsletter. I respect your privacy and will not share your e-mail address with a third party. Contest ends June 15, 2009 at midnight CST. Winner will be announced on Independence Day 2009 on my newsletter and blog."

Now, for My Giveaway:

If you'd be interested in winning a copy of Cheryl Wyatt's Ready-Made Family, drop a comment in this post with your augmented e-mail addy. I'll make the draw Friday, April, 10th @ noon Eastern time.

Good Luck Everyone!

Surrendering to Him,


Friday, April 3, 2009

A Lesson Well Learned

I was asked about a year ago if I’d be interested in creating an article for this April’s Christian Fiction Online Magazine’s International column. Of course I said yes.

Where the lesson comes in, however, is that in the course of nearly a year I let this opportunity slide further and further into the recesses of my mind, knowing I had plenty of time to come up with something witty and yet informative to share. As March approached, and life as usual, sped by, it finally dawned on me that I had an article to write. I had no idea of the deadline, but I figured it would be similar to the Afictionado one for reviews, the 15th of the prior month. So I still had a good two weeks to craft something of value.

Well, guess what?

I didn’t.

An extension was gracefully offered, thankfully. But my writing of it, for an article that I wanted to be upbeat, came in the saddest of times. Our beloved tabby cat of seventeen years developed serious health issues that ultimately lead to humane euthanizing of him. So, what was meant to be funny, entertaining, and informative, ended up being lecture material you’d get from the white-socked, flood-length plaid pant wearing, and saucer eyeglass sporting, monotone, barely alive lecturer on his worst day.

So I’ve learned the hard way to start something as soon as you receive the assignment. You can always modify, add, subtract, tweak in the many months in between, but at least you’ll have something far closer to your original intent to submit come the deadline. Unlike what happened to me this time. The grieving me really doesn't do witty.

"Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6

I look at this as further training of me, and seek to not depart from it.

If you’re interested in being lectured to regarding the trial of being me preparing to break into the American market, you can catch this free seminar at Christian Fiction Online Magazine.

I hope you'll check out the far more peppy articles throughout this great magazine while you're there, though. Wouldn't want you to leave the site feeling numb and depressed like I was in my hours of grief.

Surrendering to Him,


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Conference Preparedness

Manuscript(s) sample chapters, tag line(s), 30-second elevator pitch(es), one-sheet(s), business cards, business casual dress, toiletries...

Okay, what am I missing?

Oh, yeah, now I remember, CONFIDENCE!!

Argh. Everywhere I turn these days (in the writing arena of life, I mean) I see how very little confidence I have. That's not good to take with you to writer's conferences. I know. Because in the past three years I've gone to three writer's conferences and believe me, there are plenty of confident writer's out there quite willing to monopolize ALL of the agent's and editor's time.

There's the mad dash to find the tables with the industry leader's name carded in that fancy script font, and then when the sign-up sheet is posted for fifteen-minute interval "appointments" with the oh-so-sought-after industry representatives, the limbs fly, necks crane, pens scratch, and when you finally come up for air, you discover you lost a shoe in the process. No, seriously, it can be like this. I know, because I watch from a comfortable distance.

Not exactly taking advantage of all that conferences have to offer, am I?

As I worked on this post, I looked up confidence in my concordance and couldn't resist sharing this quote after my above shoe comment. "For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken." Proverbs 3:26 (Bolding, my doing.)

I'm in awe once more, there is even direction in the Bible for crowd control. God does have a sense of humor, I'm convinced, because His word spurred a giggle in me just now. What perfect timing He has.

There is another verse that I found, though, that is very insightful.

"So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me." Hebrews 13:6

Doesn't this just say it all? If we are working to glorify Him, if we believe He is our helper/provider in this writing journey, then what should we fear of man's (agent or editor--yet another sinner like ourselves) reaction?

The worse they can say is that our writing stinks, and I highly doubt they'd be that insensitive to use those exact words. So, in the worse case scenario we get a huge dose of humbling, and learn that we need to study more and continue to work on our craft.

aka: Confirmation of what I'm already feeling.

Ironically, I'm feeling more confident already. Are you?

So, what do you do to prepare yourself for Writer's Conferences? Both internally and externally?
I have my first one of the year coming up in June, and would appreciate any guidance.

Surrendering to Him,


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

When Doubt Interferes...

Listen to this promise:

"Now you have every grace and blessing; every spiritual gift and power for doing his will are yours during this time of waiting for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ" 1 Cor. 1:7.

A busy day of writing and errand running ahead for me. But I wanted to leave you with the above verse for inspiration.

Isn't it awesome that everything we need is in place to do what God desires of us. May we find a moment today to quietly listen for His guiding, and obediently follow.

Surrendering to Him,